Sunday, January 14, 2018

101 Textures in Colored Pencil by Denise J. Howard

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101 Textures in Colored Pencil
by Denise J. Howard

ISBN-13: 9781633223400
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Walter Foster Publishing
Released: Dec. 12, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
101 Textures in Colored Pencil provides artists with step-by-step instructions for drawing a wide variety of the most common textures and surfaces, including sand, water, metals, foliage, wood, fabrics, stone, grass, hair, and many more. Each page is a comprehensive resource on how to create a specific texture, complete with two to three easy-to-follow steps and a final, detailed image of the finished artwork. Plus, the book is organized into sections based on subject matter, making finding what exactly what you need a breeze.

My Review:
101 Textures in Colored Pencil provides instructions on how to produce 101 textures using Prismacolor Premier colored pencils. She used white Stonehenge paper (a fine-toothed paper) and Prismacolor Premier colored pencils for all of the examples in the book. In her directions, she used the pencil names rather than describing the actual color. So we're told to "go over almost all the lemon yellow with a wash of a sharp Spanish orange" or "go over almost all the pale vermilion with a wash of a very sharp crimson lake." (The "sharp" refers to how sharp your pencil is, and "wash" refers to a technique that she described earlier.)

She assumed that you know the basics of drawing and even of using colored pencils, though she did explain the main techniques she used in making textures. There were four illustrations for each step-by-step description of how to produce a texture. Sometimes she demonstrated making a small patch of texture, like fur, but left it up to you to apply this to the animal's whole body. Other times, she demonstrated a completed object, like an eye. At the end, there was a short gallery of her finished works, and she indicated what textures from the book were in each picture.

You can see exactly what's covered in the table of contents, but she basically covered people (hair, skin, eyes, nose, lips), animals (fur, mane, scales, skin), fabrics (burlap to silk, leather, lace), woven basket, glass, stone, ceramic, wood, metal, various food textures, and nature textures like bark, grass, water, clouds, leaves, and fire. You can get an idea of how to create a texture from the directions, but this book is really most useful to a person who owns a Prismacolor Premier colored pencils set.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Friday, January 12, 2018

March Forward, Girl by Melba Pattillo Beals

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March Forward, Girl
by Melba Pattillo Beals

ISBN-13: 9781328882127
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Released: Jan. 2, 2018

Source: ARC review copy from the publisher through Amazon Vine.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
From the legendary civil rights activist and author of the million-copy selling Warriors Don't Cry comes an ardent and profound childhood memoir of growing up while facing adversity in the Jim Crow South.

Long before she was one of the Little Rock Nine, Melba Pattillo Beals was a warrior. Frustrated by the laws that kept African-Americans separate but very much unequal to whites, she had questions. Why couldn’t she drink from a "whites only" fountain? Why couldn’t she feel safe beyond home—or even within the walls of church? Adults all told her: Hold your tongue. Be patient. Know your place. But Beals had the heart of a fighter—and the knowledge that her true place was a free one.

Combined with emotive drawings and photos, this memoir paints a vivid picture of Beals’ powerful early journey on the road to becoming a champion for equal rights, an acclaimed journalist, a best-selling author, and the recipient of this country’s highest recognition, the Congressional Gold Medal

My Review:
March Forward, Girl is a memoir about Melba Pattillo Beals' childhood and is intended for readers age 10 and up. She talked about growing up in the 1940s and 1950s under heavy segregation laws and the threat of Ku Klux Klan violence against blacks who didn't submit. She mainly remembers the fear and humiliations and recounts some of her worst memories. She also talked about a few encounters with kind whites and a brief visit to St. Louis, where things were so different that she didn't want to leave. The book ended with her being chosen to attend the previously all-white high school in Little Rock as one of the Little Rock Nine. The brief epilogue summarized the year she spent in that school.

She writes from her viewpoint as a child, so we only get hints of the a wider context of what was going on. A young reader might be left with the belief that the author's childhood impressions and worst memories represent what daily life was like for all Southern blacks. While it's good for people to learn what Melba feared and endured, I would have liked a little more wider context. Her memoir only very briefly explained why things got that way, how things were changing, and that life was different in other areas.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Plant-Based Nutrition, 2nd Edition by Julieanna Hever M.S., R.D.; Raymond J. Cronise

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Plant-Based Nutrition, 2nd Edition
by Julieanna Hever M.S., R.D.;
Raymond J. Cronise

ISBN-13: 9781465470201
Paperback: 353 pages
Publisher: DK
Released: Jan. 9, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
The science confirms that a diet rich in whole, plant-based foods can help your body thrive. In fact, a growing number of physicians advocate a completely plant-based diet for many of their patients who suffer from diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. In this all new edition, leading plant-based dietician, Julieanna Hever, and Ray Cronise, the mastermind behind magician Penn Jillette's 100-pound weight loss transformation, team up to give you everything you need to know about following a plant-based diet, including:

A wealth of information on the most nutrient-dense foods in the plant kingdom

New perspectives on macronutrients, and why categorizing protein, carbs, and fats as food groups causes unnecessary confusion about what to eat

The latest science on oxidative priority and how it explains why many common recipes drive unintentional weight gain

Healthspan and longevity recommendations based on the latest research

45 all new recipes from celebrity chefs: Matthew Kenney, Dreena Burton, Jazzy Vegetarian, Kathy Patalsky, Robin Robertson, Fran Costigan, Jason Wyrick, and Matt Frazier

Sample menus to get you started on a plant-based lifestyle

Tips for stocking your kitchen, boosting the nutritional content of your favorite dishes, and dining out healthfully

My Review:
Plant-Based Nutrition, 2E provides the basic information needed to understand the benefits of eating a whole-food, plant-based diet and how to do it. The authors kept the information pretty basic--what you need to know to eat healthy in a practical sense rather than lots of scientific discussions. The authors talked about why a whole-food, plant-based diet is desirable, the nutrition you need (protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals) and how it's generally easy to meet the minimum requirements from whole, plant foods. They talked about what supplements you might need to take and which do more harm than good.

They talked about dietary guidelines, nutrition myths and controversies (obviously just the most common ones), understanding nutrition claims on products at the store and how to shop successfully. They described the benefits of exercise and some basics about length and types of exercise. They talked about special nutrition considerations during pregnancy and for babies, children, seniors, athletes, and weight loss. They covered how a whole food, plant-based diet helps heal chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, and more.

They provided tips for eating out at restaurants, for the holidays and such, and information on how to convert recipes to animal-product-free versions (with dairy, egg, meat, oil substitutes). Then we got 45 recipes from various people. In general, they seemed to serve about 4 people and didn't look too complicated. Overall, this book is a good resource if you want basic information about a whole-food, plant-based diet.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Cræft: Traditional Crafts by Alexander Langlands

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Cræft: Origins and True Meaning of Traditional Crafts
by Alexander Langlands

ISBN-13: 9780393635904
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: W. W. Norton Company
Released: Jan. 2, 2018

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
In the midst of a seemingly endless supply of mass-manufactured products, we find ourselves nostalgic for products bearing the mark of authenticity—hand-made furniture, artisan breads, craft beers, and other goods produced by human hands. Rediscovering craft helps us more fully appreciate human ingenuity and the passing on of traditions from generation to generation.

Archaeologist and medieval historian Alexander Langlands argues that our modern understanding of craft only skims the surface. Reaching as far back as the Neolithic period, he combines history with scientific analyses and personal anecdotes. We follow the author as he herds sheep, keeps bees, tans hides, spins wool, and thatches roofs. We learn that scythes work much better on tall grass than the latest model of weed trimmers, that you can spin wool using a large wooden spoon, and that it was once considered criminal to work on animal hides before a requisite twelve-month soak.

My Review:
Cræft is a mix of the author's experiences and thoughts about various traditional skills that were once vital to our survival. The author is an experimental archaeologist who was involved in BBC shows like Victorian Farm, Edwardian Farm, and Warime Farm. He told stories about his experiences while trying a craft or using the products of traditional crafts. He also contemplated the costs of modern ways of doing things and some advantages of using traditional methods. For some crafts, he described the labor that went into gathering the raw materials and how the craft is done. He provided enough detail that I could understand the basic principles of how it's done, but it's not a how-to guide. It's more an attempt to get readers to fully appreciate traditional crafts.

The author periodically delved into the origins of various words, and he started off with cræft and how it's meaning has changed over time. Then he talked about the tools and considerations that go into haymaking, evolutionary flint tool development, various ways we still use sticks (like in shepherd's crooks), making wicker hives and beekeeping using these hives, building drystone walls and maintaining hedgerows, taking flax and wool from harvesting/shearing to making yarn and weaving, and making wattle hurdles.

He examined the various local materials that were used in thatching and how they were used to thatch a roof. He talked about how leather was tanned and the many ways leather has been used (like shoes and harness). He talked about his visit to a traditional farming spot in Iceland and about how British farms used to be very diversified. He talked about dew ponds and how livestock ponds were traditionally constructed, the many ways that pottery and baskets were used in the past, how baskets are made, and his adventures in lime burning. He also talked about digging, both as an archaeologist and in clearing land for a garden.

The one thing I found lacking was pictures. Except for one set of sketches showing some tools, there were no pictures of the places or objects he talked about nor pictures of people doing the craft. I think I would have been able to follow his explanations better if there had been some pictures. Overall, though, it was an interesting book about the author's involvement with traditional crafts.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Monday, January 1, 2018

The Undercover Edge by Derrick Levasseur

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The Undercover Edge
by Derrick Levasseur

ISBN-13: 9781492650591
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Released: Jan. 1, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
In a televised social experiment before millions of viewers, police sergeant Derrick Levasseur demonstrated that techniques used by undercover detectives could help people achieve their goals in everyday social situations. The result: he walked away with more than half a million dollars.

In The Undercover Edge, Derrick shares advise about human behavior and motivation. He provides easy tools based on experience acquired while overcoming personal adversity and working more than a decade in law enforcement. He shows readers:

• The power of observation and creating a profile
• The effect of using silence to extract and evaluate information
• The benefits of interpreting body language and developing your sixth sense
• The importance of self-awareness and adapting to your environment
• The value of developing a personal ops plan with a defined mission

Derrick's approach allows readers to create a solid foundation in their lives, build confidence personally and professionally, and push themselves to become stronger, more capable leaders.

My Review:
The Undercover Edge is an advice book about how to succeed in life using techniques the author learned as a police officer and through adversity in his life. It's written in an encouraging, easy-to-read and -understand way. Basically, he teaches good communication, leadership skills, how to spot what motivates the people around you, and how to use that knowledge to everyone's advantage. He used examples from his life and fictional business-world scenarios to illustrate his points. Overall, I'd recommend this book to people who want to be more proactive in achieving their goals.

He started by encouraging the reader to analyze your own strengths and weaknesses and to set goals and achieve them through smaller steps. He explained the advantages of "profiling" the people around you. He gave general advice about staying healthy, creating financial stability, and developing relationships. He talked about how to effectively listen to others and to watch their body language. He gave leadership and management advice and talked about visualization techniques, growing through adversity, and the importance of having good mentors/roll models.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Country House Library by Mark Purcell

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The Country House Library
by Mark Purcell

ISBN-13: 9780300227406
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Yale University Press
Released: Oct. 31, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Beginning with new evidence that cites the presence of books in Roman villas and concluding with present day vicissitudes of collecting, this generously illustrated book presents a complete survey of British and Irish country house libraries. Replete with engaging anecdotes about owners and librarians, the book features fascinating information on acquisition bordering on obsession, the process of designing library architecture, and the care (and neglect) of collections.

The author also disputes the notion that these libraries were merely for show, arguing that many of them were profoundly scholarly, assembled with meticulous care, and frequently used for intellectual pursuits. For those who love books and the libraries in which they are collected and stored, The Country House Library is an essential volume to own.

My Review:
The Country House Library looks at privately owned books in Britain and Ireland from the Roman Britain villas in the 1st century to the country house (and town house) libraries of more recent times. The author talked about the types of reading material, including information like the languages they were written in, the materials used, how they were stored and organized, and how they acquired. He also explored where the books were kept and the furnishings in those rooms (if known). He talked about known private book collections--who owned them, how many (or what value of) books they owned, and significant or commonly-owned titles in those collections. He also talked about what happened to various collections, like destruction in fires or dispersal through selling, inheritance, and such.

The author also talked about changes in how and why books were acquired, the types of books deemed desirable, how books were stored, and such. He included people's descriptions of various collections and rooms to give an idea of how people viewed these collections at the time. This book included beautiful, full-color pictures of libraries, significant books, and paintings that show people reading books. There was enough focus on changes in collecting habits, storage, and such that I found the book very interesting.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Healing Powers of Tea by Cal Orey

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The Healing Powers of Tea
by Cal Orey

ISBN-13: 9780806538266
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Citadel
Released: Dec. 26, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
It picks you up and calms you down, warms you and refreshes you. With black, white, red, green, and herbal varieties, there’s a tea for every taste, and now this time-honored superfood is trending as the drink of choice for health-conscious people of all ages and cultures. With The Healing Powers of Tea (sweetened with lively stories) you’ll learn the hottest tips to improve your health.

*Discover how black and white teas are heating up the beverage world with antioxidants and nutrients that lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and fight off inflammation, viruses, and bacteria.

*Drink teas and tisanes to give yourself more energy, less stress, treat the common cold, insomnia, and more!

*Enjoy comforting and tea-licious recipes like Warm Scones with Jam and Devonshire Cream, Assorted Finger Sandwiches, Scrumptious White Tea Scallops, and Russian Tea Cookies paired with the perfect brew – hot or iced.

My Review:
The Healing Powers of Tea includes stories from the author about her experiences involving tea, some legends and trivia about tea, and some health benefits of tea. The author is a health journalist, so you'll get the type of information found in magazines: soak your feet in tea or use tea-infused tea products for a spa day. Recipes for making tea-related foods (like scones) or hints on how to use tea or tea leaves in certain foods. Trivia like the first use of tea bags, the origins of some of her favorite tea companies (like Lipton), and mentions of tea in ancient records. Interviews with Tea Masters asking things like how they got involved with tea.

She defined tea terms. She covered basic information about white, green, and black teas and tisanes (spices, fruits, and herbs). She also talked about the health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet and suggested possible menus and recipes to pair with your tea. She talked about how people use tea for weight loss, anti-aging, and in beauty products. She had a section on using tea for 50 health conditions, but the information tended to be repetitive. For example, tea is anti-inflammatory, so she recommended it for a variety of inflammatory conditions. She had a new entry for each condition and just repeated her advice each time, but with a new personal story tacked on about how well it worked for her.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.